Follow the Royal-Brick-Road!

london bridge

Have you booked one of our tours to London and Paris and are having a hard time deciding what to do or see during your free time in London? Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a part of the British Royal Family? We’ve created an exclusive Royal Road for you to follow to get a taste of what it is like to be a King or a Queen!

Follow this road to experience the royal pomp and pageantry as you discover the majestic part of London!

Tower of London:

Built around 1365 to house Edward III’s treasures, this building is one of only two left from the medieval Palace of Westminster after an 1834 fire. This world-famous historic landmark gives you the opportunity to see the Imperial State Crown and other royal treasures in the Jewel House. While you’re there, be sure to check out some of the exhibitions going on throughout the summer such as the Line of Kings exhibit – showcasing the Tower’s collection of arms and armour!

Kensington Palace:

This royal residence was Princess Diana’s last home. Visit the Fashion Rules: Dresses from the Collections of HM The Queen, Princess Margaret and Diana exhibit and indulge in exquisite dresses once worn by these royal leading ladies. Afterwards, enjoy an afternoon tea party and at the Orangery restaurant. Remember, pinkie up!

Queen’s Gallery:

The Queen’s Gallery is a public art gallery located at Buckingham Palace. This gallery showcases works of art from the Royal Collection. You can admire Queen Mary’s diamond ring at The First Georgians: Art & Monarchy 1714-1760 exhibit as well as the Diamond Jubilee state coach!

Westminster Abbey:

Consecrated in 1065, this breathtaking abbey is the crowning and burials site of most English monarchs since 1066. It also houses Poets’ Corner; the burial place of Charles Dickens and other writers. Visit the site that held the extravagant 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge!

Fortnum & Mason:

Established in 1707, this British store is famed for its food hall, hampers and china. Bring home gifts for your family from Fortnum & Mason, the official grocers of HRH the Price of Wales since 1863.

Royal Birthday:

You are cordially invited to celebrate Prince George’s first birthday. On July 22nd, Buckingham Palace will be opening their doors to launching Royal Childhood; a special exhibition of artefacts from different generations of childhood within the royal family. You will see 250 years of toys, clothes, unseen photographs and film footage. Happy Birthday, Prince George!

Comfort Tour Canada offers a London/Paris tour package for 9 days and 8 nights. We provide fully guided tours to all of the main attractions of each city. For each day that you are in London, you will also have the opportunity to go see sites and attractions at your own leisure. Following the Royal Road is a perfect activity to do during your free time to explore the majestic city of London! Embrace your adventurous side and book one of our London/Paris tours today!

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* Eastern Capitals of Europe *

Prague-Vienna-Budapest Tours from Toronto

Discover the best of Central Europe with Comfort Tour Canada as you travel through three historic and culturally-rich European cities! Our 8 day / 7 night fully-escorted tour includes round-trip direct flights, guided sightseeing tours conducted by licensed-English speaking guides, quality accommodation, daily breakfasts and six group dinners (including a dinner boat cruise on the Danube River in Budapest!).  Join Comfort Tour Canada on our Prague-Vienna-Budapest Tours from Toronto to discover the magical Eastern Capitals of Europe.

Prague-Vienna-Budapest Tours from Toronto

Prague-Vienna-Budapest Tours from Toronto

Your first destination will be Prague, Czech Republic. During you time in Prague, enjoy a sightseeing tour with a local guide and visit the main sights of the city, such as the 1,000 ­year mold Hradcany Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Town, the Jewish ghetto, the Astronomical Clock, and the old town, Mala Strana. You will also enjoy a special dinner (included) in a historic brewery dating back to 1400 and enjoy the local goulash with Pilsner bier as well as the famous Becherovka. How is that for a true Czech experience !

Prague-Vienna-Budapest Tours from Toronto

Prague-Vienna-Budapest Tours from Toronto

The next stop will be Budapest, Hungary,  where you will join your Local Guide on a tour through Eastern Europe’s most cosmopolitan city. Passing by the Parliament, cross the Danube via the Margaret Bridge to Margaret Island and drive to the Royal Castle on the Buda side, where you visit the Fishermen’s Bastion (Promenade) and the Matthias Church. Also,  climb the Gellért Hill, which rises 140 m tall above the Danube River – there you will have some beautiful views of the city! You will also cross the Elisabeth- Bridge, passing the Heroe’s Square, the Opera and St. Stephan Basilica.

Prague-Vienna-Budapest Tours from Toronto

Prague-Vienna-Budapest Tours from Toronto

The last stop is Vienna, Austria! In Vienna, enjoy sightseeing with a drive along the elegant Ringstrasse. Pass the impressive State Opera House, the Jewish quarter, and stop at the Hofburg Palace, the winter residence of the Austrian imperial family. Marvel at the impressive courtyards and famous Heldenplatz and visit the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral.  Vienna is a beautiful city and has a lot to offer to visitors from all over the world. During your free time, do some shopping on the longest shopping mile in Vienna – Mariahilfer Straße. There, you will find all of the major department stores and local shops/boutiques as well as many local cafes, where you can try the traditional Viennese chocolate Sacher Torte! This is something you don’t want to miss!

Comfort Tour Canada’s Prague-Vienna-Budapest Tours from Toronto is a spectacular tour, which combines the Bohemian lifestyle of Prague, the bustling pace of Budapest and the elegance and style of Vienna all in one! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit these beautiful cities this Summer of 2014! Trust your Canadian tour operator and travel with Comfort Tour Canada – remember, we travel in Comfort all the way!

For more information about the tour, please visit our website: http://comforttour.ca/

The European Capitals: London and Paris

Comfort Tour Canada — London-Paris Escorted Tours

Let Comfort Tour guide you through London-Paris along our 10-Day London-Paris Escorted Tours to these two European capitals and supply endless history, culture and excitement all in ten days and eight nights! Comfort Tour provides round-trip direct flights to and from the destinations, as well as fully-escorted bus tours in both cities, accommodation, and full daily breakfasts throughout the entire duration of the tour.

While in London, enjoy guided bus and walking tours to see the most recognized attractions such as the Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the Houses of Parliament. Not all sites that London has to offer are found on land, so we offer you the pleasure of enjoying a scenic Thames River cruise.

London-Paris Escorted Tours - Big Ben and London Bridge

After spending four days in London, travel from the central St. Pancras station to Paris by way of the high-speed Eurostar train (the cost of the train ticket is included in your package). Relax, enjoy the scenic views from your window, and just two hours later, you will find yourself in Paris. There, you will have the chance to view and explore top attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Champs Elysees, and much more. You will also enjoy a scenic Seine River cruise for a very unique perspective of Paris. In the four days spent in Paris, you will have all the opportunities to explore true Parisian culture, uncover the artistic heritage of Paris, and explore the cities’ hidden gems!

London-Paris escorted tours - Eiffel Tower and Louvre

Our tour directors are committed to informing you about the wonders and history of the majestic city and making your travel experience memorable! To complement the excellent guided city tours, Comfort Tour provides you with accommodation at high-quality, centrally-located hotels throughout the entire travel experience. This tour will not disappoint!

For more information about the tour, dates and prices, please visit: http://comforttour.ca/

The Best of Italy: Rome, Florence, Venice and more!

Comfort Tour Canada — Italy Tours from Toronto

Fall in love with Italy as you experience the ancient ruins of Rome, the beauty of Renaissance Florence, the rustic charm of Tuscany, and the romance of Venice on this guided tour with Comfort Tour Canada! Our fully-escorted 9-day/8-night tour package includes accommodation at first-star hotels, daily breakfast, sightseeing tours conducted in English, local transportation by coach and airport transfers as well as one lunch and six group dinners at local restaurants!

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City.  Italy

While in Rome, you will enjoy guided tours of the Vatican City, the capital of Catholicism, the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica. Take the opportunity to visit the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon or the beautiful piazzas and monuments. Also in Rome, enjoy dinner in a local restaurant in the quarter of Trastevere with music to accompany the dinner!

Florence View - Italy Tours from Toronto

En route to your next destination, Florence, you will visit the town of Orvieto, which stands proudly and precariously on top of a cliff of red volcanic rock. In Orvieto, admire the wonderful winding streets and past the magnificent Gothic cathedral, with its black and white striped walls and colourful mosaics. The city has a fascinating warren of caves and underground passageways, which you explore on a tour before free time for lunch in one of the many restaurants of the historic centre.

Upon arrival in Florence, enjoy a tour to Piazzale Michelangelo for a breathtaking view of the city from a dominating position on the hills above as well as the Cradle of Renaissance to see the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo (the fourth largest cathedral in the world) and Piazza della Signoria. There, you will also see the Basilica Santa Croce, burial place of some of Italy’s most celebrated icons including Galileo Galilei, Macchiavelli and Michelangelo, and as many as 1,700 masterpieces in the world-­‐famous Uffizi Gallery. In fact, much of the beauty of the city is found indoors, with a fifth of the world’s Renaissance art on display in Florence’s museums, galleries, churches, monasteries and palaces. During your free time in Florence, you may choose to explore a number of these art displays.

The tour continues as you travel to Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower and then Lucca, one of the most perfectly preserved medieval towns in Italy to enjoy a guided tour through its narrow lanes and historic palaces.

Famous leaning tower of Pisa, Italy - Italy Tours from Toronto

To top of the tour, you will visit magical Venice. There, you will enjoy a private boat to Piazza San Marco for a guided tour of the square, which is dominated by the magnificent Basilica Di San Marco and the venerable Palazzo Ducale, or Doge’s Palace, an impressive and marvelous building of the Venetian rulers.  During your free time, take the opportunity to explore and get lost in the winding streets of Venice or test the wide variety of gelato shops in search of the most delicious scoop of gelato!

This Italy tour provides you with the opportunity to visit some of the most famous, well-recognized cities of this spectacular country. It’s not often that you’ll find Italy Tours from Toronto, which offer such an exciting itinerary with the perfect combination of guided tours and free time. Join us today to taste the delicious local produce, admire the beautiful architecture and discover what it means to live the “Dolce Vita” ! Trust your Canadian tour operator and travel with Comfort Tour Canada – after all, we travel in Comfort all the way!

For more information about the tour, dates and prices, please visit:  www.comforttour.ca

Princess Diana Memorials in Europe

Lady Diana was often considered by the media as the “People’s Princess”. Loving, caring and beautiful, she possessed all the attributes needed to become a subject of idolatry. And so she became – an ideological figure.

The monument to French-American friendship- La Flamme de la Liberte, erected in Paris in 1989, is considered to be as the unofficial Princess Diana memorial. The torch in this monument is an exact replica of the one to be found on the Statue of Liberty in New York. At the foot of this torch, people are constantly pasting messages and photographs of the Princess and leaving flowers in her memory. Many people now treat this monument as a sort of pilgrimage place to honor Lady Diana. It is common to find a crowd of people standing around the statue in her honor.

A garden dedicated to the memory of Britain’s Princess Diana has been officially opened in Paris. French officials say the flower beds will eventually bloom and provide a place for children to learn about flowers, plants, vegetables and respect for the environment. But critics have scoffed at the project dubbing it as “1,000 square meters of leeks.” Paris mayor Jean Tiberi said. “Through this place I wanted to pay tribute to a woman whose generous heart showed her deep fondness for nature and human relations, particularly with children.” The garden opened in February 14, 2001.

There are also monuments dedicated to Princess Diana in London, U.K. The first memorial dedicated to the unfortunate couple with the name of “Innocent Victims,” on display at Harrods, a huge department store located in London. The symbolism here is extremely esoteric and significant. The statue represents Princess Diana and Dodi holding together a bird. There is also a park dedicated to Princess Diana contains an oval shaped fountain and a sanctuary. The most significant symbol however, can be found on the ground represented by a five petal granite rose, the classic occult symbol to represent female energy.

While traveling on our bus tour to Paris and London, you can get acquainted with the history of the British family and Princess Diana. You can also leave some flowers at the memorials!

Major Sport Events in London

Is your reason for wanting to go on a London tour the result of seeing the 2012 Olympic coverage? London hosts many major sporting events during the year. From cricket to the NFL, there is a sport for every enthusiast.

Wimbledon
Held in June at the All England Tennis Club, Wimbledon is the only grand slam event to be played on grass. You can buy tickets through the ballot ahead of the event or test your luck by lining up on the day of the event. You may be rewarded with Centre Court tickets. However you end up at the tennis game, don’t forget to sample the traditional food of Wimbledon – strawberries and cream.

Royal Ascot
Join in with the pomp and pageantry of the races at the Royal Ascot. Held every year in June, Royal Ascot is one of the social occasions of the year. The races are attended by members of the Royal Family, who parade in every morning in open-top carriages. Royal Ascot is the perfect opportunity to dress up. If you can fit a hat in your London tour suitcase, and enjoy a bit of a gamble and a glass of champagne, then this is your event.

London ITU Triathlon
London is a regular host to a leg on the ITU World Triathlon Championship. See some of the best all-round athletes in the world. The event is set in scenic Hyde Park and the 2013 event will be swum, cycled and run over the same course as the 2012 Olympics.

Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race
Taking place on the last Sunday in March or the first Sunday in April, the Oxford and Cambridge Boat is a great way to sample a traditional sporting rivalry. This rowing race involving rowing eights from Oxford and Cambridge University has been regularly taking place since 1856. The race takes place on the Thames between Putney and Mortlake, the best vantage point being a riverside pub!

NFL, NBA and NHL
For a few years now, London has been home to NFL, NBA and NHL regular season games. So if you are craving a taste of home during your London tour, this could be the answer. NFL games are held at New Wembley and NBA and NHL at the O2.

Cricket at Lords
Nothing is more quintessentially English than a game of cricket. So what if you can’t understand what on earth is going on and don’t know your silly-mid-off from your long-on?! A game of cricket at the famous Lords ground is an experience that you cannot find anywhere else.

FA Cup Final
One of the premier sporting events on the British sporting calendar, the FA Cup final is an event that stops the nation (or at least the towns were the participating teams come from). The FA Cup Final is the culmination of a knockout competition of Football (that’s soccer to us North Americans) that any team in England and Wales can enter. The final is held at the New Wembley Stadium and is attended by almost 90,000 people making it the fourth best attended club championship in the world.

‘My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.’!

It’s safe to say that most people are familiar with the catchy phrases of Sherlock Holmes.

photodune-843227-london-eye-xs

Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is a detective with great ability for deduction and logics. All stories that appear in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are held in London. The prototype of Sherlock Holmes was Conan Doyle’s colleague who worked in The Royal Edinburgh Hospital and was famous for his ability to guess the person’s past and present based on small clues.

His detective stories became famous, but in fact Conan Doyle did not share such enthusiasm for detectives. He was an author of historical novels rather than detective stories, for which he became loved by his readers. When Sir Arthur decided to stop writing detective stories, he ended the Sherlock Holmes series by writing about the death of Sherlock Holmes in a battle with the popular literary character Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. However, the number of letters from indignant readers led the writer to “revive” the famous detective and continue with his adventures.

To learn more about the life of Sherlock, you can visit the famous museum located in London on 221b Baker Street. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson lived at the same address according to the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

 

The Sherlock Holmes’ Museum

In The Sherlock Holmes’ Museum, you are transported back in time to the late 1800’s. are no horrors, mummies, hidden corpses, or wax figures. Instead, Everything in the museum reminds us of the stories we know so well. In fact, when stepping into the rooms inside the museum, it will feel as though the great detective had left the room for a moment, while Mrs. Hudson is just about to enter the room with a tray of tea cups. It is filled with everything mentioned in the stories – Holmes’ violin, his deerstalker and pipe, the Persian slipper in which he kept his tobacco, unanswered letters pinned to the wall with a knife, his magnifying glass and more. What’s more, you will find Dr. Watson’s diary, which contains hand-written notes and extracts from famous story: “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. You can also sit in Holmes’s armchair by the fireplace, or even bring your own pipe to smoke! It is truly a unique experience, unlike that of any other museum.

People have been writing to this address a lot for the last 100 years; most letters come from the United States. Correspondents generally ask whether Mr. Holmes can help them with a problem, such as finding a missing relative or pet. Greeting cards also arrive during holidays including Christmas and Holmes’ birthday. Dr. Watson is not forgotten either.

You can take a small excursion around the museum by following the link:
http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk/video.html

 

The Sherlock Holmes pub

Another outstanding place that can be visited is the Sherlock Holmes Pub. This was originally a small hotel, previously known as the Northumberland Arms, but it was later refurbished and reopened under its present name in December 1957.
The pub was restored to a late Victorian form, and the exhibition with a detailed replication of Holmes’ fictional apartment can be found on the upstairs floor. They serve traditional pub food ranging from a la carte menu items and a wide selection of beer, real ales, wines and spirits. All of these foods are served while you enjoy yourself in a cozy and friendly atmosphere. The Sherlock Holmes Pub believes in giving customers the best. Everyone is welcome!

Even the menu of this pub is like a detective story, have a look:
http://www.sherlockholmespub.net/Menu/Sherlock_Holmes.pdf
http://www.sherlockholmespub.net/index.php

So when you are in London, remember to visit the world’s most famous and historical places for a chance to be transported back in time!

How to Fit in When in London

 

In the past, London was associated with dapper men wearing bowler hats and using walking sticks as fashion accessories.  But times have changed.  Dramatically.  This huge, bustling city is home to more than 8 million people and the 2011 census showed that only 45% classify themselves as white British making it a truly multicultural city.  More than half of the people in the boroughs of Brent, Newham, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea were born abroad.

English is the most common language but 22% of the population doesn’t speak English as their first language.  However as an English speaker you won’t have to battle with a language barrier, as you will be understood wherever you go.  But when you’re there be prepared to be amazed by the range of other languages that you may encounter such as Polish, Spanish, Hindi, French, Italian and Urdu spoken by the residents and the 15 million tourists who go to London annually from all over the world.

Whether you are shopping in London, enjoying the sights, or dining out in the evening, follow these top tips so you will fit in perfectly.

Don’t get lost.  Invest in a London A-Z map (pronounced A to Zed), which is in a handy book format and details every single road, lane and square in the city so you’ll never get lost.

London telephone box

Use the Tube.  The London Underground system is the oldest underground train network in the world.  There are 12 different lines running over 253 miles of track.  It is easy to use and enables you to get from A to B without having to sit in traffic jams.  Study the underground map before embarking so you know where to change and where to get off.  A word of warning:  don’t expect to strike up conversations with Londoners on the Tube.  They tend to sit quietly, read a newspaper and avoid looking at one another.  For them their journey is a means to an end.

Chat to the locals.  The best places to find Londoners to chat to are at tourist attractions, in markets, or when they are relaxing at their favorite pub.  In these locations, the Londoners will enjoy talking to you.  They are proud of their city and like to tell tourists all about its charms and own quaint ways.

Learn the lingo.  Be prepared that across the pond, many English words have different meanings to what you may be used to.  There is no elevator, just a ‘lift’.  An ‘elevator’ is a moving staircase.  If you ask for the restroom you will get a blank stare – ask for the ‘toilets’, ‘ladies’ or ‘gents’.  The Tube is not a subway; it’s simply ‘The Tube’.  A ‘subway’ is the underground walkway between one side of the street and the other.  And if someone starts talking about their ‘mobile’, they are referring to their cell phone.

photodune-843227-london-eye-xs

Cockney Rhyming Slang.  A Cockney is a Londoner and the original rhyming slang appeared in the 19th century in the east end of London.  Although not many locals use it, if you come across some east enders, particularly on the market stalls, you may well have fun trying to decipher what they are saying.  Here’s a small selection of common Cockney Rhyming Slang:

  • ‘Use your loaf’ means use your head                         (Why?  Rhymes with loaf of bread!)
  • ‘Don’t tell porkies’ means don’t tell lies                (Why?  Rhymes with pork pies!)
  • ‘Have a butcher’s’ means have a look                       (Why?  Rhymes with butcher’s hook!)
  • ‘Go up the apples’ means go up the stairs             (Why? Rhymes with apples and pears!)
  • ‘You’ve got big plates’ means you’ve got big feet   (Why? Rhymes with plates of meat!)

Be polite.  Mind your P’s and Q’s – your please’s and thank-you’s.  Polite courtesy will get you a long way in every part of London.  Don’t be demanding or compare London unfavorably to your home country – or a Londoner may turn round and suggest politely, or less than politely, that you return from where you came from without delay.

Learn the art of queuing.  Londoners know how to queue (stand in line).  Under no circumstances must you push in front of anyone or the locals will take great offence.  It’s all about being fair – the Londoners fiercely believe that the person who has waited longest should get in first.

London is a vast friendly city full of real characters who when given half a chance will tell you all about their personal history.  If you want to enjoy your stay and get the best out of the locals, be mindful of the guidelines above and you will have a superb and unforgettable time.

london bridge

Breakfasting in Paris

The French word for breakfast is petit déjeuner, which translates literally into little lunch. While a lot of Parisians eat breakfast at home, you will see many stopping for a quick breakfast at one of the thousands of cafés in the city. Most Paris tours do include a breakfast at your hotel, but you may decide one morning to have breakfast with the locals in a neighborhood café. Doing so will provide you with a great opportunity for an early morning walk and some people watching.

a breakfast of Croissant & Cappuccino at a sidewalk restaurant in France

The traditional Parisian breakfast is a very simple affair and you will typically be served:
– Tartine – fresh bread served with butter and jam. The bread will have been baked fresh at the bakery that morning.
– Croissant –you will see Parisians eating these plain, sometimes dipping them into their hot chocolate or coffee. Did you know that while croissants are now regarded as quintessentially French, the invention of the croissant is actually credited to the Viennese?
– Coffee – some Parisians take their coffee black and short (espresso) at any time of the day, but many and perhaps you, may prefer café au lait or café crème (coffee with milk) at breakfast time.
– Hot Chocolate – or Chocolat chaud is enjoyed by both children and adults at breakfast time.
You can decide to have your breakfast propping up the bar in the cafe listening to the local gossip with the café owner or have it outside on the terrace and watch the world go by. As with most café dining, standing at the bar while you have your breakfast is likely to be cheaper than eating outside or sitting at a table in the café itself.
Visitors who would prefer a larger breakfast to start the day are also provided for by cafés, particularly in tourist areas. You may see an “English” breakfast advertised on blackboards outside cafés. An English breakfast will typically include eggs and perhaps ham, along with the standard bread or croissant and often a glass of orange juice and yoghurt as well.
Another option for breakfast is to pop into a bakery or patisserie. Many bakeries have small tables inside or outside. A lot of bakeries now make take-away coffee so you could take your breakfast to a park or eat on your Paris tour bus. For your coffee to go just ask for “un café à emporter s’il vous plaît ”.
At the bakery you may see a variety of pastries such as pain au chocolat, a croissant type pastry with chocolate in the middle or pain aux raisins a glazed pastry spiral dotted with raisins. A particularly Parisian pastry that is a particularly special treat for breakfast is an almond croissant, which is a regular croissant filled with almond paste and topped with almond slivers. You may also see brioche which is a sweet (but not as sweet as pastry) bread.
If you do decide to have breakfast at your Paris tour hotel, you will probably find a breakfast more like what you are accustomed to at home with a variety of cereals available and perhaps a cooked buffet option. There will still be the pastries and bread mentioned above, so wherever you decide to have breakfast you will not miss out on eating some of the same foods that a Parisian would for breakfast.

A Literary Tour of London

 

Away from the hustle and bustle of London’s many illustrious landmarks you can discover its literary past and present.  Many famous novelists and playwrights are associated with London, where they found inspiration for their works, such as the long departed Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Samuel Johnson, John Keats, William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker.

The Queen's 80th Birthday - Paddington Arrives

Modern novels are also linked to London:  Paddington Bear from darkest Peru was created by Michael Bond and was named after the train station where he was found.  And the ever-popular Harry Potter has to catch his wizardly train from the elusive Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross station, one of J.K. Rowley’s many inspired ideas.

harry_potter_kings_cross_platform

London is a magnet for literary enthusiasts and when you are there, you too can take time to discover the scholarly attractions of this cultured city.

Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) was a prolific author of many acclaimed works including ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Oliver Twist’, ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘The Pickwick Papers’.  His only surviving home in London is found on Doughty Street near Chancery Lane and was the inspiration for his novel ‘Bleak House’.   It is now the Dickens House Museum and holds rare Dickens memorabilia including manuscripts and paintings.  In addition, some companies offer walking tours of Dickens’ London, where you can walk through the areas where Dickens lived and worked – full of alleyways, gas lamps and houses from the 18th and 19th century – as the guide takes you back in time with informative commentary.

sherlock_holmes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930) wrote many novels but it was the Sherlock Holmes series with his sidekick, Dr. Watson that he remains most famous for.  In his creation, Doyle decided that Holmes lived at 221B Baker Street and this was a real address.  The house was built in 1815 and is now a listed building to ensure its preservation and has been converted into a Sherlock Holmes museum decorated in late Victorian style.  Various oddities are on display including a pipe and magnifying glass to depict the wise and unconventional Holmes.  Walking tours of Sherlock’s London are also on offer, passing through Charing Cross, the Strand and Covent Garden whilst the guide weaves a spell of words about life in the times of Holmes.

Samuel Johnson (1709 -1784), commonly known as Dr. Johnson, was a poet, essayist, literary critic, biographer, editor and best known for compiling the first comprehensive ‘Dictionary of the English Language’.  He is also famous for saying, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”.  His 300-year-old townhouse, found amongst a maze of courts and alleys near Fleet Street, is open to the public and houses a collection of Johnson’s work and a research library.

Statue of Hodge outside Dr. Johnson's house, Gough Square, London

Oscar Wilde (1854 –1900) was a flamboyant, amusing and sometime outrageous Irish writer and poet, and was feted in the fashionable London cultural and social circles of his time.  He is famous for his only novel, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ and his masterpiece play, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. Unfortunately he lived at a time when his homosexuality was not tolerated and was imprisoned for this ‘crime’ in 1895.  Walking tours are available to follow in his footsteps.

John Keats (1795 – 1820), the celebrated romantic poet lived in Hampstead in North London, and fell in love with Fanny Brawne who was his next-door neighbor.  It is where he penned one of his most famous works, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.  Keats House is now a thriving museum dedicated to Keats’ poetry and poetry in general.

london_literary_walk

Whether you want to visit the former dwelling of a literary icon or walk in their footsteps around the streets of London, you can be sure to enjoy incorporating a cultural adventure into your stay.

Michelle Collins
VP of Public Relations
New Design Group Inc.
www.newdesigngroup.ca